June 1, 2011

We have talked about brain injury before, and we have talked about the National Football League’s lobbying efforts to require concussion training for school coaches. In those posts, we have emphasized the risks of repeated injuries and the importance of benching players who show the symptoms of a concussion. But what about the players who show no signs of concussion?

According to a recent study, even if they walk off the field after every game, Oregon’s young football players may still be sustaining serious brain injuries with every collision in practice or in a game.

The researcher found these injuries, called “sub-concussive blows,” almost by accident. He was studying a group of high school football players and their brain function and cognitive ability before, during and after the season. Having equipped the players’ helmets with G-force detectors, he set out to measure the force of the blows the players sustained and then tie that data to the brain function measurements.

He expected to focus his analysis on players who had presented the symptoms of a concussion or been diagnosed with a concussion. What he saw, though, was a player who had never exhibited any traditional concussion symptoms but whose records indicated a decline in brain function and lower scores on verbal and visual tests. Other players had similar results.

What alarmed the researcher was the fact that absent this data there was no way to distinguish these players from players who had sustained no brain injury at all.

He presented his findings at a symposium this month, along with two brain injury specialists.

We’ll discuss their combined findings in our next post.

Source: (New Orleans, LA), “Lesser blows now the big concern with regard to concussions,” Tammy Nunez (The Times-Picayune), 06/22/2011


Categories: Blog